Judge Recuses Herself and Co-Defendants Take Plea Deal in Non-Fatal Shooting Case

DC Superior Court Judge Rainey Brandt recused herself from a case in a May 2 hearing because of a surprise contact with a co-defendant accused in a non-fatal shooting.

Michael Dukes, 25, and Rickeis Watkins, 22, were indicted on charges of assault with intent to kill, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a pistol without a license, and unlawful possession of ammunition in connection to an incident that occurred on the 1400 block of Brentwood Road, NE on March 24, 2022. Both suspects were on release with GPS monitoring.

According to court records, there were no apparent victims on the scene.

Judge Brandt stated she was recusing herself because of a recent interaction with Watkins at her local grocery store where she ran into Watkins who is employed there.

After a brief question about how they knew since they were wearing face masks, Watkins pointed to his GPS monitor on his ankle and told Judge Brandt, “You put this box on my ankle.”

Judge Brandt stated that out of an abundance of caution, she decided it was best to recuse herself.

The case was transferred to DC Superior Court Judge Anthony Epstein and plea offers were accepted for both defendants. 

During Tuesday’s hearing, Dukes pleaded guilty to one count of attempted assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Watkins pleaded guilty to one count of attempted assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of carrying a pistol without a license.

Sentencing for both parties is scheduled for Aug. 4.

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